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SOCIAL    AND    POLITICAL    LIFE           173

efforts at reform, with the best of intentions, have proved
unsuccessful.

To look at it kindly, nepotism is no worse than favouritism
of other sorts. A minister does not place only his nephews in
the ministry, but he also has to place the nephews of other
high officials, if they are high enough, who write him letters
of recommendation. Where is he going to place them, except
in sinecure posts and "advisorships"? The economic pressure
and the pressure of overpopulation are so keen, and there are
so many educated men who can write literary essays but who
cannot repair a carburettor or set up a radio, that every new
public organ or every official assuming a new post is daily
flooded with, literally, hundreds of letters of recommendation.
It is quite natural, therefore, that charity should begin at home.
For the family system must be taken as the Chinese traditional
system of insurance against unemployment. Every family
takes care of its own unemployed, and having taken care of its
unemployed, its next best work is to find employment for them.
It is better than charity because it teaches in the less lucky
members a sense of independence, and the members so helped
in turn help other members of the family. Besides, the
minister who robs the nation to feed the family, either
for the present or for the next three or four generations,
by amassing half a million to ten million or more dollars,1 is
only trying to glorify his ancestors and be a "good" man of the
family. Graft, or "squeeze," may be a public vice, but is always
a family virtue. As all Chinese are fairly "good" men, so,
as Ku Hungming says, the commonest conjugation in Chinese
grammar is that of the verb "to squeeze": "Isqueeze>you squeeze,
he squeezes/ we squeeze, you squeeze^ they squeeze." It is a regular
verb.

And so, strange as it may seem, Chinese communism breeds
Chinese individualism, and family-defined co-operation results
in general kleptomania with an altruistic tinge to it. Klepto-
mania can go safely with the greatest personal honesty and

11 allow myself to mention only the dead as examples. General Wang
Chanyiian, Governor of Hupeh, was worth about thirty millions; General Wu
Chunsheng, Governor of Heilungkiang, was even richer, holding vast tracts of
realty that would be difficult to estimate. God alone knows how much Tang
Yulin of Jehol fame was worth. He is still alive.